Tuesday, June 30, 2009

72 - Listening while a brass toy spins

My hands and feet were very cold when I paused at Iska’s desk. “I’d like a kaf, if you please.” I said quietly, to the boy sitting there. “Where’s Iskanzas?”

“Certainly, exalted one. Kaf. Right away. Um... the fessas manager... is with the Director, exalted.” It was like pulling teeth to get information... bad image... I took a deep breath in.

“This worm one... umm... does not know...”

“All right. I’ll ask him myself, while you’re fetching my kaf.” The poor boy nearly strangled, coughing, but he whispered me more information before I could turn away.

“This hideous worm thinks it has to do with Karas Raikas, Spark of the –“

“Very good. I’ll be back for my kaf.”

I flounced into the gladiator’s baths, redolent of katzerik smoke, glanced at the brand-new skylights and through to the garderobes as if I had been heading there in the first place. It felt so good to wash my hands with warm water I felt guilty. Why should I feel pleasure when Shefenkas was still in such pain?

The doors to his apartment were open, because somewhere he’d heard that a great leader is accessible to his minions and he saw himself as a great leader even if he couldn’t pour piss out of a pot with directions stamped on the bottom.

I stepped behind an ornamental vase taller than I was, glanced at the orgy depicted on it and turned my attention to the voices coming from inside. Iska was speaking.

"If the high one flogs Shefenkas... Karas Raikas... for rudeness, ser, that one will be ruined for any other fights.”

The Director was in a snit... “Perhaps he should be considering that?”

“The man is current living greatest, honourable and wise Director and won’t be controlled by fear of your greatness, Ser.”

“Hmph.” He said petulantly. “It says ‘Hire someone’. Stupid thing...” he absently addressed the decision maker. He’d obviously wanted it to stop on ‘Flog someone’. “Why should I care if he makes fifty now? I want to flog all the skin off his cursed stinking body.” I realized there were boys coming up to the Director’s suite and I pulled back further, half behind the enormous vase and stood still. That was when I realized they were pointlessly dusting things already gleaming, or swept a rug already spotless. They were here for the same reason I was. They, not expecting me, didn’t see me as far as I knew. I couldn’t move and kept my breathing shallow because I had on enough jewelry that if I moved too much something would clink or rattle.

“Most honourable Director, the Marble Palace wishes him here and fighting for two more fights, Ser.” Even hidden out in the hallway I could hear the stress in the fessas’s voice as he tried to explain his dilemma to his titular boss.

The squeaking and buzzing stopped and I imagined the Director’s fishy, suspicious stare. “The Marble Palace? It gets orders from the Marble Palace that I don’t? Perhaps It needs a flogging as well as the gladiator, Iskanzas Muras, fessas?” The sneer was obvious and I made a mental note to myself to never sound like that. Iska was unmoved, perhaps from long experience dealing with the man.

“The Mezem will be able to charge the world for every seat for those last two fights.”

“That’s true... lost revenue... Hmm.” The three boys... none of whom I recognized, stood very still, holding the cleaning tools in their hands, their faces mixtures of contempt and upset and rage at how the Director was treating Iska. They loved him.

“Just think of charging ten or a hundred times for every seat, just because of people thinking he’s a foreign king. And thousands for the good seats. His fiftieth would pull in chains like that anyway, but now his forty-ninth could as well."

Nicely done. Appeal to the man’s stupid greed.

“There is that.” He paused while his mind plodded through that calculation, then went back to his original thought like a dog to something it had just vomited to try and eat it again. “He still deserves a flogging for insolence, though. Imagine, telling those writers he’s a foreign king! Who does he think he is?” A foreign semanakraseye, you idiot.

“The man was out of his head, most honourable Director of the Mezem. It will only benefit the most high Director, and make that one’s fights more expensive.”

A sniff and the buzzing whir from the desk toy. “Stupid thing. That doesn’t make it any less insolent.”

“It is part of the act, Ser. Acting like a Durakis.” A slam as if the Director had fisted the desk. It was what decisive people did.

“Then he should have started it sooner! That way we could have made more money. Sooner!”

“He doesn’t really think he’s a king, Director of the Mezem.” Another slam.

“Then he should be flogged for uttering falsehoods!” Sniff. It just made me want to kick him. Perhaps I would follow him around all day sometime soon and just kick him whenever I felt like it.

“He’s not as savvy as the exalted Director,” Iska said, with not a trace of irony in his tone. “He certainly should have consulted with your magnificence before doing this, but it’s certainly more lucrative.” That’s right. Keep returning to the point you want the moron to remember. “Just think, most high, of that.”

“Hmph. I always think.”

Iska waxed rhapsodic on the Director’s intelligence. “The Director of the Mezem, held the Yeoli Durakis. The exalted is the only one with the incredible skill and vision to show his skill in combat to the world!”

The chair squealed as it was pushed away from the desk, and I could hear the Director pace officiously. “What? It believes this nonsense?”

If it had been me, I would have rolled my eyes half out of my sockets by this point. “It is what the Pages will say of the exalted Director, Ser. That it is the brilliance behind displaying the man, ser.” I’ll pay someone to write that. It will feed his bloated vanity. Maybe make Iska’s life a little easier. How does he manage not to punch the man, even if he is aitzas? “The elevated one held him captive, displayed him to the world. A huge war effort, if this one might be allowed to say so, Ser.”

“OH! Hmph. What a relief... For a moment there I was beginning to doubt its intelligence, Iskanzas. It was sounding as though it believed this shen.”

“This one is no where near the Director’s intelligence, Ser.” Totally respectful. Totally true but in the exact opposite of how the Director would take it.

“But a modicum of thought is necessary for its role, so I value it.”

“This one, which lives to serve, is excessively flattered.” A completely dry tone. If I had any servant address me so I would have recognized the insult behind the words. I moved then to put my hands over my mouth to stop myself from laughing

“Perhaps I’ll be magnanimously merciful then, and give him a mere talking-to. Karas Raikas I mean.” My mouth dropped open. Oh I would love to see that scene... but then would have to intervene when the Director frothed off in another rage. Iska, do something... He and I were probably thinking along the same lines.

"That one is so far beneath the magnificence who hears me now that this one would dare suggest this one might take that trouble from his magnificence’s shoulders? It is indeed a distasteful and tiresome chore that this one would cheerfully take away, to endure the money-making acts of rudeness, Ser.”

“Distasteful and tiresome, you are exactly right there. Hmph. Well. Yes. I suppose. Go do it then, dear Iskanzas.”

“The Director is too kindly to this loathsome worm.” Iska was backing out of the office and I was pressed tight to the wall behind the vase. I saw him shooing the eavesdropping boys in front of him with a stern look and waited until everyone was long gone before I came out of my hiding place and lit a katzerik.

“Who’s there!? Go away! I don’t want any of you around!” The Director shouted from inside his rooms. I considered letting him see who he was shouting at then changed my mind. I would come down in a day or so, when he went out to the theatre perhaps, and follow him around kicking him as I felt like it.


  1. The image of the Director being followed by a kicking Minis fills me with glee. :)

  2. Er ist zo doof! Pardon my bad German. Yes, the man is an idiot.